Friday, July 16, 2010

Long Run Lament

So here I am, being a good girl for once and not running any summer races. I'm actually sticking to the promise I made three years ago about avoiding running in the heat. I haven't gone to the Thursday night run since it's been warm, and I'm out early getting my miles in during the cool parts of the day. All good, right? However, as every good marathoner knows, I've got to keep my miles up. I mean, I'm used to doing one to two races a month and I don't want to lose that fitness. I have signed up for two fall marathons so far, so I've got to maintain in the meantime. All leading up to the long run...

I decided to take care of this by planning a 20 mile run around town for this morning. Jenny said she'd join me and we planned a 5:00 am start to avoid the heat. As luck would have it, it was cloudy and 53 degrees this morning - perfect! And all was well for the first 12 miles. We cruised along, sometimes chatty, sometimes quiet, just winding our way through parts of Puyallup. We ran into Lesa just as we hit mile nine, and ran a block with her before we turned off into the park where we typically run on Thursday nights. About halfway through the figure-eight, my chest started tightening up. We dropped the pace a bit, took an extra few seconds on the walk break, made sure to eat and drink, and started back up. My tight chest persisted. I changed the run/walk over to a 4/1 and we headed back across town. About mile 15 I told Jenny I was really bonking because my legs were so heavy and I was having trouble breathing. A short time later I felt it - the pain in my upper back, the cinched ribs, the inability to get a breath. Full fledged heart symptoms that I haven't felt since a year ago May.

This so frustrating! I know that it can and will happen, I know that I can manage it, I know that I am a strong runner and that when it happens I need to let go of my plans and accommodate. I know all this, but I have such difficulty doing it. Jenny and I discussed how hard-headed I can be, as we kept moving toward home. We took a route through the college that would give a mile of gentle downhill - and as I ran down, I could feel everything easing and I could breathe again. So...we decided to try a one mile lap around the lake (my stubbornness (or maybe obsession) strikes again). I switched the timer over to 1/1 and off we went. Not so good, everything came back. We lapped the lake and headed home - our house is about a half mile away. And we walked almost the entire way, ending the day with 19.23 miles.

Some will read this will not be able to understand what drives me. For that matter, I'm not sure I understand. There are moments when the frustration overwhelms me and I am ready to drop all long distances. Settle in at maybe the half marathon, or ten mile distance. But then I think, no. No. I can do this, I've been doing it for three and a half years, I love it, I love the distance and the challenge and I won't give it up till I have to. "Have to" is when there is evidence that it is damaging my heart, or when the natural and expected degradation of my defective valve won't allow me to run. Until then, I'll deal with the frustration, with the occasional bad episode, and I'll savor the good runs. Really, when I think about it, it's been over a year since I last had a bad day. That's pretty good.

In thinking over the factors that played into the run today, I suspect a few things. First, I didn't really take a break over our vacation like I thought I would. I ran more than expected (I had to counteract all the good food and beer), we hiked thirteen miles into the lodge, ran eight the next day and hiked thirteen back out. (Yes, my husband is a stud. He ran a 100 miler on Saturday-Sunday and we hiked five days later). I ended last week with 47.5 miles and already had 30 miles in for this week when we started our run this morning. I've also spent the last three weeks in high temperatures - ranging from the low 80s to over 100. Temperatures like that give me a knot in my chest whether I am running or sitting. I seldom have problems and run my best when it is 30 - 45 degrees, so even 53 is a bit warm for me. I guess the cumulative toll of too much heat and too much running caught up with me, or maybe it was too much running in too much heat. Jenny and I discussed it and decided a rest week is in order. I'll run no more than five miles a day this week, which will put me in the 25 mile range. We are supposed to have a bit cooler weather so that will help too.

Wow, if you are still reading, you are dedicated! Sometimes I write these posts to share, but sometimes, like today, I write them for me. I write to let go of frustration, and as a record for myself. I go back every now and then, and read over posts from the past to remind myself that my health has been worse, that I've dealt with these symptoms before and that I am still running. It's all good and I feel better now that I've written it out. I might even be able to keep the whine out of my voice when I talk to Eric in a bit. Thanks for letting me vent, and I'll see you out on the run!

8 comments:

Thomas said...

Michelle, you have done, very, very well so far, with or without all those heart symptoms, and you know better than anyone else how to deal with them. I have full confidence that you will figure out the best way to deal with this situation.

Wes said...

So, one day in a year? That's pretty good! So, one of 365 days you need to not be stubborn :-) and work within the parameters that life has given you!

Happy running!!

Scott Keeps Running said...

Maybe that's your heart trying to get your attention because it's bored without a summer ultramarathon. Or maybe not. Still, 19 miles proves how strong your heart is. My dad is having a much slower recovery from his Dec.'08 quad-bypass than he was hoping -- frustration for sure. I'm inspired by both of you.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

It is good to vent and get it all put in the open. Good for you to talk about it. I he you are having a restful remainder of your day!

Mama said...

I'm not sure if you are a perfectionist, but I know you are a high achiever. You are always reaching for growth and that is one of the things I admire about you. It just may be the definition of growth may not be more mileage right now, it may be something else entirely.

It will all work out. We may not know what it will look like, but it always works out.

Anne said...

Michelle, they don't call you a Marathon Maniac for nothing. I get the drive and the override of common sense. Just be prepared for stern lectures from your doctors if the symptoms persist. I'm sure the heat is a huge factor and, especially where you live, it's temporary.

Sarah said...

I hope writing it all out helps with the big picture. Having to bag one run isn't the end of the world. But, I know, easier said than done! I have that same tendency to keep pushing even when I know I should stop.

Take care of yourself! And you didn't ask, but I think if your next marathon isn't until Oct or so, you can get away with 15ish as your longest and then ramp it back up in Sept.

Anne said...

One day in the last year is certainly not too bad...I guess it has to happen at least once a year so you always remember to stay cautious :) Take care...you're a pretty inspiring woman!